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How to Save for a Down Payment

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Ready to get serious about homeownership? Then it’s probably time to start saving for a down payment. While down payments can seem like a challenge, they are really like any other goal you set for yourself, doable.

To succeed, think about the bigger goal in terms of smaller, more easily accomplished actions you can take to save money. Here are 12 things you can start doing today that can help you reach your goal, perhaps even within a year.

Nickel and Dime Yourself

Look at your expenses and what you’re spending money on, and then find opportunities to cut back. Try bringing lunch four days a week or carpooling to save gas money. Small cutbacks can really add up over time.

Set It and Forget It

Establish a high-yield savings account that is strictly for your down payment. You may even want to choose a bank separate from the one you normally use so you won’t be tempted to dip into your savings. Then, schedule an automatic transfer out of every paycheck into that account.

Up Your App Game

Find an app that will help you save and visualize your progress. Qapital links to your personal accounts and lets you establish “rules” based on your daily life. For example, you can set a weekly coffee budget and send the rest to savings when you come in under the amount.

Create a Waterfall

Concentrate on paying off high-interest debt, such as credit cards, one at a time. Once you pay one off, move to the next one. As you reduce your monthly debt payments, it should free up cash you can save for your down payment.

Get a Side Hustle

Whether it’s selling your knitted masterpieces on Etsy or driving for Lyft, divert the extra income toward your down payment.

Semi-retire Your 401K Contribution

Consider temporarily reducing your 401K contribution while you are saving for your down payment. Put aside the difference in your savings account until you’ve reached your goal. Once that happens, increase your contribution percentage to at least what it was previously.

Think Smaller

Decreasing your current housing expenses means you can put more away for a down payment. Moving to a smaller, less costly space for a short time can help you save money for a bigger, more permanent place to call home.

Ask to See the Benjamins

Include your relatives and friends in your savings goal. When a gift-receiving opportunity presents itself and you’re asked what you’d like for the occasion, answer, “Cash, please!”

Plan a Staycation

Instead of splurging on an expensive vacation this year, challenge yourself to find as many fun—inexpensive and free—things as you can to do and see in your hometown. With each ticket you don’t buy, or restaurant meal you don’t pay as much for, add to your savings account.

Hold a Real, or Virtual, Yard Sale

Letting go of those skis you haven’t used in five years will be easier if you know the profit will go toward a new home. Virtual sites like eBay and Facebook’s Marketplace make it easy to get your merchandise in front of potential buyers. It also means less to move!

Stash Your Raise

Congratulations! Your hard work over the past year was recognized. Now, pretend it never happened. Instead, continue to live off the amount of your old paycheck and put the remainder in your down payment savings account.

Look at All Your Options

Many organizations, such as the Federal Housing Authority, Veterans Administration, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, offer down payment assistance for qualifying borrowers. Taking advantage of one of these programs could greatly reduce the amount you’ll need to save and stretch the dollars you have accumulated.

Whether you follow all or just a few of these savings tips, achieving your savings goal could be easier than you think. They also could lead to your becoming a homeowner that much sooner.

Ready to save for a down payment?

How low will your payment be?